Local group Wandering Minds takes improv to the cellar
The basement of the BMU seems like an odd place for a performance of any sort, but with local improvisational troupe Wandering Minds, the parlor-games nature of its shtick makes for a certain comfortable fit with the brightly lit study room. Taking their cues from the popular game show Whose Line Is It Anyway? (where the players improvise snappy scenarios given to them by the moderator, sometimes with cues or subjects supplied by the audience), the players seemed cozy enough with the environment.
Sticking pretty much to the outline of the show, the Wandering Minds (Marcus Sams, Steve Redmund, Justin Jeffries, Ashley DeCarli, Eben Bergoon, Eric Nordlin) offered up such routines as “The ABC Game” (where two players do a scene where each line starts with a successive letter), “Party Quirks” (a player acts as the host of a party and has to guess the quirk of each guest), “Film and Theater Styles” (act out the scene in different genres), “The Dating Game” (pretty much the same as “Party Quirks”), “Superheroes” (a superhero must tag the other players as they join him to solve a world crises), and a handful of other variations from the show’s template.
The players for the most part were quite adept, quick-witted and—most important—funny, although they were saddled with a fairly thick audience, which in response to being asked for film or theater genres to work with offered up such suggestions as silent movies, ‘70s porn and The Simpsons (as the audience seemed to be comprised of Chico State theater majors, its ignorance of what constitutes a genre is particularly sad).
The Wandering Minds proved to be pretty sharp at the improv game, and there were only a couple of moments when a player went vacant-eyed and stumbled off of the stage, flapping arms in defeat. Now, if only the BMU would have served booze, the party games aspect of the evening would have been perfect.